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No Way to Run a Nation

Photo by Upendra Kanda | CC BY 2.0

There will be a lot of chest-pounding from members of Congress in the next two weeks as they take their long spring break from what they facetiously refer to as “governing.” They’ll be crowing about what slices of pork in the $1.3 trillion short-term budget measure they brought home — and what riders they slapped on the 2,232-page omnibus bill. But the truth is that they voted on that massive measure a mere 18 hours after it was finally released from the back rooms where it was written. They can crow all they want, but this is no way to run a nation and they certainly don’t deserve congratulations.

Of course “we, the people” were completely excluded from the deliberations on how our tax money would be spent. Like every other state, Montana’s congressional delegation did not ask those they are supposed to be representing what they actually wanted — or didn’t want — in the massive spending measure. Nor did they ask us if we wanted to plunge the nation further into debt for the many frivolous billions in special interest giveaways. Nope, what we may or may not have desired for our future and that of generations to come was simply not part of the equation.

In reality, thanks to the almost unbelievable manner in which these charlatans are running Congress these days, there was no way our senators or representatives could have done what should have been done in conferring with their constituents because the bill came out just hours before yet another government shutdown loomed.

That the Republican majorities in both the House and Senate — and the very distracted Republican in the White House — can’t get their collective act together to run our government any better than this farce is tragic. That congressional Democrats let them get away with it while whittling out their own little pieces of the pie is even worse. What happened to the “loyal opposition”? One might just ask that question while U.S. Sen. Jon Tester is running around the state in the next two weeks desperately seeking more re-election campaign cash.

While traditional Republican conservatives should pin U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte and U.S. Sen. Steve Daines to the mat over their obvious defection from the fiscally conservative campaign promises they made, Democrats should do the same to Tester over his campaign promise to not use non-related riders on funding bills — a promise that helped get him elected but that he broke almost immediately with his defense appropriations bill rider to congressionally pull wolves off the endangered species list. And make no mistake, the omnibus bill is loaded with riders, including overturning the Cottonwood decision that may have kept lynx from going extinct and allowing the U.S. Forest Service to hack down 3,000 acres of public forest without environmental analysis or public review and comment.

And of course any phony reference or promise of “transparency” by any of our congressional delegation should be tossed back in their face — preferably attached to the 2,232 page budget bill not one citizen ever got a chance to see, analyze, or provide feedback on before the last minute vote took place.

People are generally judged on how well they do the job they were hired to do. Given that this is an election year, and this travesty of governance is how they did their job, Montanans might consider not sending any of the incumbents back to Washington next year since their campaign promises mean nothing and our future cannot be assured due to their terrible job of governing.

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George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.

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